Google announced a new site yesterday, www.boutiques.com. The aim was to provide a unique and personalised shopping experience that no other site online today provides. The idea was to get fashion designers with great taste to pick and match various clothing and accessories together to give the best possible match. The idea is sound, but if Google wants this to take off then their SEO is definitely something they need to look at.
Upon looking at the site the first thing we notice is in the source code. The clever little meta robots tag designed to give you control over the robots is present, but not in the way you would expect.
For some obscure reason, Google still has the index and no follow tags present. Our first thought was that the site was not yet ready to go live, but Google has announced Boutiques on their own blog, so what gives?
A little more investigation further supports the theory it was not yet ready, as all of the links on the homepage appear to be no-followed (highlighted in the image as pink), except for 3 URL’s back to Google’s other websites and one to the Apple store for an iPad app.
The bad SEO practices don’t stop there. Let’s have a look at the other meta tags… Oh would you look at that, there are none! Both the keywords and description tags are missing from the source. The title tag is present but simply lists the title as the domain name. I am getting more and more surprised the more I dig into this site. It’s almost as if Google didn’t design it at all, but outsourced it to another company that knew nothing about SEO in the slightest.
Now, for such a new site, getting indexed by search engines (other than Google that is), sitemaps play a huge part in doing this quickly. The main Google sites have sitemaps, but Boutiques don’t. In fact, if you try to visit the sitemap.xml, it performs a 301 redirect to “error.py” which then gives a 200 OK status.
The correct way to do this would be for “error.py” to respond with a 404 Not Found code not a 200 OK.
A lot of the remaining errors are fairly minor, but they all have a significant SEO impact. The lack of sitemaps, RSS feeds, H1 tags and a robots file indicates that no thought has gone into SEO for Boutiques at all. The lack of any effort is unusual for a company whose goal is to provide relevant search results, and it surprises me that they have allowed the site to go live in this fashion at all. As the site stands now, it’s an SEO disaster, so jump in while you can to see how SEO should not be performed. Almost every rule in the book has been broken, all the way from the worst possible mistakes to the “kick yourself for being stupid” mistakes. I find it hard to believe Google meant to release it in this state, but they have and they have been caught.